“Can you keep a secret?” He asked.
Sera nodded her head.
“Promise not to tell.”
She nodded again.
“I’m a snake person.”
There was silence and her face scrunched up into confusion.
“Like how some people are like cat people, they like cats?”
“No,” he said “I am of an ancient and reptilian bloodline.”
“’Kay.” She said flatly.
Three years. She hadn’t been on a date in three years and this was what she ended up with. Was this fate’s cruel joke for her wasting her twenties? To add insult to injury it was a blind date. A friend of a friend situation. They matchmaker figured she had a lot in common with Trevor since they both played for the same faction in WoW. She was quickly discovering that this razor thin connection was not as strong as it was made out to be.
“You don’t believe me.” He said, sounding defeated.
“I do not.”
“Why would I lie?”
She was side struck by the straightforwardness of the question.
“I dunno. Why WOULD you come up with such a completely impossible lie”
“It’s not a lie. I am a snake person. A snerson.”
“Bullshit!” It came out quick as a cough.
She panicked when she realized she had no way out. He had picked her up in his car. And was now driving around 30 mph. She pondered momentarily trying to recall 10th grade physics. She was running numbers through the poorly functioning calculator that was her brain. Accounting for force and her weight and the speed of the car figure out her chances of surviving a jump. The road seemed well paved and she was wearing jeans so she might make out fine. If she remembered to roll.
“Ya know I think I left my iron on if you just wanna take me back real quick I can check.”
She slowly reached for the seatbelt buckle.
His right hand stayed at 12 o’clock on the steering wheel while his left hand moved to the cuff of his shirt’s right arm. He grabbed a bit of flesh and pulled it down like a glove revealing glossy olive green skin intricate with scales.
“JESUS CHRIST! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!” she shrieked.
Her whole body recoiled in shock.
“I JUST told you I was a snerson.” He said, annoyed.
“I didn’t think you were being serious!”
“I know, that’s why I decided to prove it to you.”
“Why were not even on the second date.”
“Yet?” he said fingers crossed.
“I think you can assume from my candor that I’m being very serious.”
“Can I be honest?” she squared up to face him.
“I would expect nothing else.”
“I’m a little put off dating a snake person.” She said bluntly.
“Snerson.” He corrected her.
“Have you ever thought about it?”
“Have I ever thought about it?! I didn’t even factor them into reality until you pulled off your…human glove.”
“Hmm.” He said.
She was sitting in the silence when he spoke again.
“How about now?”
“What?” She was still dealing with the mass confusion of finding another bipedal species with cognition and developed speech was living among us.
“You’ve had time now. Do you think you could date a snerson?”
“Jesus! What are you autistic?! Read the room!”
“I don’t understand.”
“Sorry it’s just… this is a lot to process. You HAVE to understand that?
“Were you okay with dating me before?”
“You mean before I found out you weren’t a human being.”
“I don’t know.” She felt like she was being put on the spot. The wrong answer could possibly end in disaster. “I guess? I mean you seem nice and you’re moderately attractive.”
He nodded in appreciation.
“But we just met. And I feel like this is more of a third date kinda revelation.”
“So more dates?”
“Let’s just be in the moment right now, that’s enough for now.”
Her mind wandered to old sci-fi movies and TV shows. V. People dramatically ripping their face mask off to reveal themselves. It was done for shock. It was done as a jump care. Never once in a romantic or loving gesture. She was trying to imagine it. Trevor coming in from a long day and unzipping his flesh suit and hanging it on the coat rack. Then she paused and had a mini self-evaluation. Why did she do this? Every man she met she imagined their whole life together. Living together. Getting married. Growing old. All of it from first date to the deathbed. Every. Single. Guy. And now she was doing it for a lizard man and things were getting weirder than they normally got.
“So is it like a rubber gimp suit?” she asked
“Huh?” he was lost.
“Underneath…this.” She motioned to his whole body
“I mean the bone structure in my face is similar and physically the proportions are...proportionate but aside from that no. I mean we have similar body shapes, ten fingers, ten toes. My skin is just a bit harder.”
"Mmhmm.” She was nodding her head a little too much.
“I don’t have any ears. You know like normal human floppy ears.”
“Rabbits have floppy ears.” She corrected him.
“Well you know what I mean the flexible flesh doors on either side of your head. Ours are more streamlined to our heads. Oh and I have no nose.”
He was answering questions she didn’t know she had.
She sucked in her lips in thought.
“Kinda?” he said unsure
“Okay. Definitely not on my Harry Potter bang list but um…huh.”
“Imagine how I felt when I realized all of you weren’t sneeple.”
“Plural.” He said naturally
“Yeah. Sure. That checks out.”
There’s a lengthy pause and she takes a deep inhale and blows it out. Everything seemed to be coming at her faster than she could deal with. She was trying to imagine herself in his shoes. It was harder than she thought. Did he even wear shoes? What was life like growing up a snake person? Was there snake school. Snake prom. Snake first base.
“How did that happen by the way?
“The two worlds things like did you watch television and eat burgers or…”
“Yea I mean we’re surface dwellers so..”
“That shouldn’t be a normal description for where someone lived but okay.”
“So…sneeple? There are more of you.”
“Loads. Yeah. Mmhmm.” It was getting harder to swallow.
“So where are you?”
“We live amongst you.” He said in a creepy voice.
Her mouth dropped open and her eyes fixed with fear.
“I’m kidding,” he gave a soft laugh “we’re mostly in the South.”
“Really. Hmm. Like all of you.”
“No I mean there’s clusters all over the place but my cluster is from San Bernardino.”
“Your cluster. Is that a formal term?”
“No I just…I mean refer to it as a cluster I don’t think we really call them anything. Communities I guess.”
She thought it over, “Hmm that makes some sense. The Bernardino thing. I always got a weird vibe from that place.”
“Betcha didn’t think it was because it was filled with snake people.”
“I did not.”
There was a beat and then he asked, “So what were you thinking for dinner?”
“Are you not hungry?”
“Yea but… I mean can address the elephant in the car before we move to dinner.”
“Okay.” He said timidly
“You know there’s a new Korean BBQ place that just…”
She stared at him with an intense fire.
“Yea yea you still need time. I get it. Okay that’s good.”
Another moment of silence passed and then she broke it “Kay. So like your whole family is…”
“Mother father and brother”
“O, you have a brother.”
“Yes. He’s older. You can tell by the spines on the back of his neck.”
“He really has spines on the back of his neck?”
“No I’m kidding.”
“Yea ya can’t do that when you’re dealing with something this fantastical.”
“Sorry. I sometimes use humor to break the tension.”
She was trying to imagine a whole snake family. Her mind flashed of the nuclear “Leave It to Beaver” family. Dad smoking a pipe with his dark green lizard lips blowing smoke as mom pulls an apple pie out the oven, the talons on her feet click clacking on the linoleum. As junior pitches a ball to his brother, his forked tongue darting in and out, a tell, letting his brother know he was throwing his famous slider. Gathering around the TV at night watching the Tonight Show with David Lizardman.
“Your people aren’t involved in any wide area conspiracies are they?”
“I don’t think so.”
“You’re not running the shadow government.”
“Cool. Cool. Probably for the best.”
“So why don’t you just come out of hiding?”
“Are you kidding? You’ve seen how this country treats gingers and that’s just red hair. Imagine having no hair! And green skin!”
“And no nose.” She added
“Yea it would not go over well.”
“No, yea I can see that now.”
“Did you say Korean BBQ earlier?”
“Is that where they cook it in front of you?”
“I think so.”
“I don’t really like those places cause you always end up smelling like a grill for the rest of the day.”
She was managing to stay up with his need to find a restaurant they would both enjoy, while also trying to work through every detail of a snake person’s whole life. Life from an egg. Shedding skin. Swallowing food whole. The kinds of things one normally thinks about on a first date. Her imagination ran wild with great people in history being snake people. It would certainly explain away some of the eccentricity of some people and then the unnerving fact that those might just be normal human beings and snake people were the ones who always arrived two hours early for a flight and always cleaned up their own table at a dine in restaurant.
“So did you hatch from an egg?” hoping to check one curious question off her list.
“I suppose so, I don’t remember.”
“Hmm…but that’s like what the norm is right.”
“So like if you…ya know with a human would the human have an egg or like a mildly lizardesque baby? Or if the father was human and the girl was…would a human hatch from an egg?”
“Seriously?” she was again surprised.
“Yea nobody’s done this before?”
“Hmm. Really?” she was astonished at the rarity of their coupling
“My parents would be freaking out right now if they knew.”
She thought it over for a bit. “Forbidden romance thing is interesting.”
“Easy,” she said “I’m just trying to see every angle.”
She weighed the thousands of options that had now been opened to her. A brand new set of avenues leading to god knows what. Every conceivable life outcome she had played out in her own imagination now had incredibly random variable thrown into it. Was she trying to make something out of nothing? Was she going to end up trying to force something just to be unique? She told herself she would try and be straightforward with everything.
“What about Cantonese?”
“Do sneeple like Asian food or something?”
“I mean there’s no like preference thing I just…I know there’s a big Asian community in town so there’s a bunch of good places around here.”
“Do you know any places for pho?”
“Yea I think I heard about this one place. You wanna try it?” he asked.
“Yeah. Okay sounds good.”